Greetings from Vacation Land!
Vacation Land feels quite similar to home. In fact, it is home. Before I drive to faraway lands, I must complete the epic quest known as Final Exams. I’ve practiced perfect bubbling motions and memorized mnemonic devices — everything but actually studying, it seems. That part comes two hours before test time.
Of course, some people come to expect this weekly newsletter on their digital doorstep every Wednesday. I’m more than happy to oblige. By “more than happy,” I mean I’m being paid to write this. And it won’t be good. In fact, I’m going to ramble for a few more sentences to make this look like a full Digest. Of course, this won’t make it to print! Did I ever tell you the time when I met Ron Jeremy…
…Where was I? Oh yeah, Christmas. I was talking about Christmas, right? Err, I mean, the holidays! Don’t sue us.
Surprise! Coming as a shock to absolutely no one, we’re releasing another Etherian Holiday Extravaganza for Steam. But there’s a twist. This DLC contains TWO maps — the Present Delivery challenge map people were expecting and an entirely new Campaign map featuring traditional Dungeon Defenders gameplay.
For this DLC, map-making duties were split between two of our level designers, Morgan Roberts and Steven Collins. Morgan designed the Campaign level, Candycove Village, while Steven created the present-delivery map, which we’ll detail next week. Morgan graciously took the time to answer my questions about Candycove Village.
Morgan: I should probably state that the original layout and design was a hybrid to accommodate both Campaign and Santa’s Present Delivery game modes. The Santa Present Delivery game used three Christmas Trees and one central pickup location. My design rule with this type of gameplay is that every Tree must have at least two paths to the nearest tree and pick-up location. When production of the map came to a close, the dev team decided to use this as the Campaign map and utilize only Crystal Cores. This gameplay change didn’t require any major redesign since the original Tree locations could simply be swapped out for Cores. However, since the cores are now on opposite sides of the map, there is a bit of added challenge to navigating your way quickly to each core while avoiding creeps.
What was your inspiration, visually and creatively, for the map?
Morgan: Originally, the art direction for the map borrowed aesthetic and color choices from The Nightmare Before Christmas in the Christmas Town scenes. We really wanted something new and different for this year’s holiday map. The cold and icy landscapes muted behind bright and colorful townhouses portrayed a fresh and vibrant look at the holiday season; however, pushing those design and color palettes from reference would have been overly too distracting and off-beat from the Dungeon Defenders universe. Instead, I opted for reviving neo-Gothic architecture blended with our bright and colorful Christmas Town assets. This gave way to a playful blend of holiday color and cheer resting on a solid Dungeon Defenders architectural style.
Did you design the map with a certain number of players in mind?
Morgan: Actually, we didn’t start off with a required amount of players for the design choices used. The original requirement was to be a small- to medium-sized map with three cores and work our way from there.
What map is this most similar to in Dungeon Defenders?
Morgan: When the map design was finished and the polish was added, I noticed a resemblance to Ben Burkart’s Servants Quarters map in terms of layout, but positioned in a relative aesthetic world close to the original Ramparts map. The neo-Gothic architecture and styling is also reminiscent of the final Summit and Spires maps.
What was your favorite moment in making this map?
Morgan: My favorite moment in designing this map was when I firmly nailed the exterior environment and terrain. I wanted to do something natural and exotic that could position the player’s viewpoint that he or she is part of a much larger and connected world. The frozen river snaking upstream through distant mountains adorned with castles and stone bridges really pulled the mood of the map together. And of course, we always have a bit of fun with small hidden gems in our maps. (The snowmen in this town aren’t very casual.)
We’ll have more details about the rest of this content next week. But I will share one more detail: The Barbarian shall soon don thy gay apparel.
And yes, all of this new content will be free. (That’s two details. Don’t say I never did anything for ya.)
As you may have noticed, we removed the Supreme Accessories from Tower Wars. These rewards were not intended for the map. This was an oversight by the team, and we apologize for the frustration this caused. In our eyes, Tower Wars is meant to be a fun yet fiercely competitive map played solely for the succulent taste of victory; however, the focus of the map turned from competition to farming when these rewards were discovered.
Worry not, vocal defenders. You’ll soon find another place to get Supreme Accessories. In our next patch, Supreme Accessories will be added to Nightmare Akatiti and Nightmare Hardcore Akatiti. Other difficulties on Akatiti will receive quality accessory rewards, too, but they won’t be quite as amazing as the Supreme Accessories.
Speaking of Tower Wars, our good friend DarkPython weathered a cold and several video issues to bring us this Tower Wars introductory guide. His video touches on the major overview of the map: the crystals, the mob pedestals, time-outs, upgrades and boss spawns. This is essential for those who want to get in there and get their hands dirty without looking foolish.
Finally, we’ve added the Jester and Anniversary DLCs to the Dungeon Defenders Collection. Unfortunately, this is not a retroactive fix. If you’ve previously purchased the Collection, this DLC will not be added to your account.
Ask Us Anything with Jeremy Stieglitz and the Team
Have a question for the team? Want to know about something in the game or what our favorite movies are? Ask away in our new Ask Us Anything thread! The thread will close on Monday, and answers will be posted in next week’s Digest.
Jeremy: That depends on whether you’ve been Naughty or Nice…
How did the Trendy team create certain names of items? Such as the high-end ones being Ultimate and Legendary being one of the worst; however, in Blizzard-based games, Legendary quality is the highest. What were some ideas tossed around during the process of this? – Sneevik
Jeremy: I’ve never played WoW, so I just tried out names that seemed to imply increasing tiers of quality. Of course, once the original game ended at Godly and the DLC needed to expand beyond that, I had to come up with ever-greater names of power… that was tough!
Any books you guys and gals could recommend? – Garzhod
Jeremy: I only read comic books! Batman, Inc.!
Steven Collins (Level Designer): “Count of Monte Cristo” – Alexander Dumas; “Dracula” – Bram Stoker; “The Scarlet Pimpernal” – Baroness Emma Orczy
Nicole Kwiatkowski (3D Artist): Anything by R.A. Salvatore! Or the “War of the Spider Queen” series.
Josh Isom (Community Manager): “To Kill a Mockingbird” – Harper Lee; “About a Boy” – Nick Hornby; “Kafka on the Shore” – Haruki Murakami; “Ringworld” – Larry Niven
Jesús Díaz (Level Designer): “The Pillars of the Earth” – Ken Follett
Kayd Hendricks (QA Lead): The first four books in the “Nine Princes in Amber” series; “Stranger in a Strange Land” – Robert A. Heinlein
Ben Greene (Art Director): “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series; “Phantoms” by Dean Koonts; anything by Neil Gaiman; “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling; “The Night Circus” – Erin Morgenstern, “Howl’s Moving Castle” – Diana Wynne Jones; recently enjoying the “Septimus Heap” series; “Relic” – Douglas J. Preston
Aleasha Ford (3D Artist): I would recommend “The Strain” by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It’s a pretty good horror book with vampires. (They are more like parasites. Nothing like “Twilight.”)
Dwayne Knight (Senior Engine Programmer): “The Mistborn Trilogy,” or anything by Brandon Sanderson really.
With the release of Tower Wars, are there future plans for more PvP maps of this style? If not, are there plans for any maps that put a twist on tower defense? – Profish13
Jeremy: I don’t think we’ll generate them internally, but we may incorporate cool PvP maps that the community creates in the future…
What was tweaked in the PSN EU patch, and will it make it to the NA and 360 versions? – RobBobtheAlien
Jeremy: Fixed Aquanos XP bug and did some more performance optimizations. We’ll consider doing another PS3 and NA patch with the remaining tweaks next year.
Given that 12/12/12 is the date of my wedding, what has TE got planned as my wedding gift? – classic22
Jeremy: How about another preview of what we’re working on next? Here you go, Classic22. Congratulations on your wedding!
Creations of the Week
Here are this week’s 10 billion mana winners! If you have an amazing video or screenshot, upload it to Steam. If you have a piece of fan art or another Dungeon Defenders creation, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll choose five lucky winners and display them here in our Digest.
Courtesy of Kane-
Previously on Dungeon Defenders
Community Member of the Week: Grant “Alhanalem” Dotter — In this week’s Community Member of the Week, we chose Alhanalem for his dedication to events, forum moderation, map making and everything awesome.
Akatiti and Tower Wars are Live — We have just added Akatiti and Tower Wars to the Dungeon Defenders Ranked mode. Our map contest first place winner, Akatiti, is a traditional campaign map taking place in the depths of the Etherian rain forest…
Trendy Friday Fun: Bring It On — It’s already December, and we are feeling the cold. All 68 degrees of it here in Florida. Maybe it’s the chilly air or the festive tree in our lobby, but we are in a giving mood. Like all gifts, we won’t tell you what the surprise is until later.
Weekly Workshop: CD Survival Section 2 — Mischief has done it again and released part 2 of the Crystalline Dimension Survival map. If you thought the first one was hard, well then you better bring your “A” game to this map.
This Week on the Website
Friday: N/A (Trendy Friday Fun on hiatus until January)
Monday: Community Member of the Week
Tuesday: Meet the Trendy Team, Code Drop Tuesday
Before we go, we must mention Daniel Sound’s Musical Cubes Contest. There are only three days left to vote for your favorite Dungeon Defenders songs. The winner will receive 12 Weighted Companion Cubes. Go vote!
Until next time,